FIFA exec to appeal suspension over bribes

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FIFA exec to appeal suspension over bribes

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - FIFA executive Mohamed bin Hammam plans to appeal his suspension over bribery allegations, claiming Monday that he was being “punished before I am found guilty.’’

A FIFA ethics committee on Sunday provisionally suspended Bin Hammam and FIFA vice president Jack Warner pending a full inquiry into allegations that Caribbean football leaders were paid $40,000 each to back the Qatari’s now-abandoned bid for the FIFA presidency.

In a statement released Monday, Bin Hammam said he lodged a request with FIFA to file his appeal by Tuesday so he could be reinstated ahead of the congress today, at which FIFA executives will vote for a president.

The 62-year-old Bin Hammam had been incumbent Sepp Blatter’s only challenger but the Qatari withdrew from the race on Sunday, hours before the ethics committee issued its ruling.

“The way these proceedings have been conducted is absolutely not compliant with any principles of justice. I am punished before I am found guilty,’’ Bin Hammam said in his statement Monday.

“I get the impression that the outcome of these proceedings had been defined from the very beginning as it has been made evident at the press conference on Sunday evening at which FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke showed his bias very clearly. This is not acceptable as the FIFA Ethics Committee is supposed to be a fully independent body,” Bin Hammam said.

Valcke said in a statement that “it is fully incorrect - and quite disappointing - to say that I have an influence on the FIFA Ethics Committee and its proceedings.’’

In a statement issued early Tuesday morning, the AFC confirmed that its most senior vice president, China’s Zhang Jilong, will be acting president of the confederation, according to its statutes, during Bin Hammam’s provisional suspension.

“We, the members of the AFC Executive Committee, express our deepest concern at the latest developments within FIFA and that involves the AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam,’’ the statement said. “We will be following the investigation as it takes its course. We hope the outcome of the investigation will be in the best interests of football in Asia and beyond.’’

Bin Hammam’s complaints about the process were echoed across the Middle East, where he has some of his strongest support. Football federations and sports columnists decried the ruling, complaining it was unfair and appeared to be orchestrated by Blatter to ensure he remained in office.

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